Updated on 09/16/2011 8:13AM

Oh, that baby-booming barn!

Email

DEL MAR, Calif. - Beginning with Silver Charm in 1996, and continuing in subsequent years with Souvenir Copy, Worldly Manner, Forest Camp, Flame Thrower, and Officer, trainer Bob Baffert has swept the last six runnings of the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity. No other trainer has won this race six times, let alone six in a row.

The streak speaks loudly of Baffert's focus on young, developing horses. For Baffert, it started when he trained Quarter Horses, where futurities, with their large pools of nominations and subsequent sustaining payments, are the richest races in the sport. Now, with Thoroughbreds, Baffert unleashes 2-year-olds he is preparing for both the Breeders' Cup and the following year's Triple Crown. He invariably unveils his best prospects during the seven-week Del Mar meeting.

But this year Baffert has taken his 2-year-old domination to a new level. In search of a seventh straight victory in the Del Mar Futurity, which will be run on closing day Wednesday, he has entered five runners in a field of eight.

Truth be told, he could have run nine. During a summer in which many trainers at Del Mar saw their 2-year-olds catch a virus that swept through the stable area, Baffert's horses went largely untouched. That good fortune, combined with a deep pool of talented 2-year-olds, led to this bounty of riches.

Baffert entered Bull Market, Chief Planner, Friendly Mike, Icecoldbeeratreds, and Kafwain. His other four possible Futurity runners are going elsewhere: Martinblestme, who is eligible for races restricted to California-breds, was entered in Monday's I'm Smokin' Stakes at Del Mar. Truckle Feature is heading to New York for Sunday's Belmont Futurity. Vindication is going to Turfway Park for Saturday's Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Spensive, who was the last of the nine to get to the races, winning his debut on Aug. 26, will wait for a later spot.

Six of the nine won first time out. The other three won in their second starts. The nine have a combined record of 13 victories from 21 starts, a number affected by overlap in races such as the Best Pal Stakes, in which Kafwain beat Chief Planner and Icecoldbeeratreds.

Bull Market set the tone for Baffert's summer at Del Mar, winning the first 2-year-old race of the meet on opening day, July 24. The son of Holy Bull has not raced since then. Bull Market, who is owned by Jim McIngvale, was entered in an allowance race on Aug. 22 but was scratched. No matter, stablemate Vindication won the race.

"He's big and quick," Baffert said. "He was scratched that day because he had a little cough, but it never really developed into anything. We got lucky."

Chief Planner finished well to place second behind stablemate Kafwain in the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 21. He has won just once in four starts, but never has finished out of the money. He also was third in the Hollywood Juvenile.

"He needs two turns desperately," Baffert said of Chief Planner, a son of General Meeting who is owned by Betty Mabee's Golden Eagle Farm. "He's big. I'm taking my time with him. With the Breeders' Cup being a mile and an eighth this year, he needs that distance. He's steady."

Friendly Mike, a colt by Honour and Glory owned by Ed Friendly and Mike Foster, romped to a 7 1/2-length victory in his debut on Aug. 3.

Icecoldbeeratreds, a son of In Excess who is owned by Mike Pegram, won his first two starts against California-breds, including this track's Graduation Stakes on July 31. He then faded to fifth after setting the pace in the Best Pal.

"He got buried on the rail that day," Baffert said. "He's a little horse, but he's quick."

Kafwain, the Best Pal winner, has won twice in four starts, all with Victor Espinoza riding. In the Best Pal, the son of Cherokee Run held off a belated bid from stablemate Chief Planner.

"The track was dead that day," Baffert said. "And Victor might have moved a little too early. He came out of the race really well. He's a big horse, too."

Kafwain was a $720,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in training in February by the late Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation. He is the most expensive horse Baffert has in the Del Mar Futurity, though he's not the most expensive 2-year-old Baffert has in the barn. Vindication, a Seattle Slew colt who is owned by the Padua Stable of Satish Sanan and who is unbeaten in two starts, cost $2.15 million as a yearling. He has won both of his starts, and is now going to Turfway to get experience going long.

"I want to send him two turns," Baffert said. "For the Breeders' Cup, he's got to go a mile and an eighth."

The other significant runner Baffert is sending out of town is Truckle Feature, a Saint Ballado colt who is owned by McIngvale and who has a wide, striking blaze down his face. His appearance reminded Baffert of a champion Quarter Horse he trained named Truckle Feature, so Baffert persuaded McIngvale to change the colt's name from Angel Rafael. Truckle Feature progressed significantly from his first start, in which he finished fourth, to his second, which he won. Now, it's on to New York, then, it is hoped, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

"His first race, he was green. I was way behind on him," Baffert said. "Then he came back and won. He's a good horse. He's a big son of a gun."